There and Back Again: Journey to 125th Street
Last weekend, March 10th 2012 to be exact, I embarked on a journey which I had anticipated for a long while (or at least for a few months or so).
I realized that since my freshman year of college I had not explored the city nearly as much as I could have. To make up for wasted time I decided that it would be highly satisfactory to
venture from the southern tip of Manhattan to 125th Street in Harlem on a single day.
To do so alone was possible, but not desirable. To make such a journey on my own was robbing myself of the spontaneity another individual can bring to an adventure (not to mention robbing them of a highly enjoyable excursion).
That individual was Ian Cherry.
I was to leave very soon for a far away land called Orlando. So with a fellow adventurer chosen the date was set for the day before my departure.
The Starting Point: 106 Fulton Street
The Destination: The Apollo Theater on 125th Street
Thusly (< not a word by the way) on a sunny Saturday morning, 36 degrees Fareinheight, we set out for what was to be about a 10 mile walk.
We began along the West Side. We had previously walked from Chinatown through the East side to Union Square (that time I walked barefoot) so we decided it would be nice to change it up a bit.
We had a lovely but fairly uneventful walk when we arrived at Houston Street and began our eastward journey to our first stop.
Now many of you probably know Katz’s from various films across the years. Some of you may frequent from time to time or maybe even…frequently. Founded in 1888, it claims to be the best Deli in New York. But I have a confession to make.
I was skeptical.
I mean $15 bucks for a sandwich is a tall order. Or at least it better be a tall order if you’re paying $15 bucks for it.
Nevertheless we trekked East across the island in search of a pastrami sandwich worthy of 15 green bills. And you know what?
We found it.
First off, when you walk into Katz’s, it’s like walking onto the floor of the Stock Market Exchange.
Or at least how I picture the Stock Market Exchange
if it involved life or death stakes when purchasing large quantities of cured meats.
You take a ticket a throw yourself into the throng that pushed its way into something resembling a line waiting to be served by the extremely efficient, extremely New York, deli-men. After getting over a brief moment of terror.
Only a moment.
I composed myself and ordered a pastrami sandwich on rye with mustard. No one else was ordering cheese so I abstained fearing a public flogging.
NO CHEESE FOR YOU SAY THE KOSHER POLICE!
As soon as you order they give you a sampling of your order which first clued me in on a single fact.
Katz’s Pastrami is the most fantastic pastrami I’ve ever had in my life.
No cheese was necessary. It was moist, flavorful, and filling enough that Ian and I were quite satisfied sharing a single sandwich between the two of us.
On our way out we had a conversation with a gentleman of 70 years from Long Island who has been coming here every year since his father brought him as a child.
Filled with pastrami and historical affirmation we ventured uptown. But not too much farther. It was at this time that Ian suggested a sampling of the wares at
Mcsorley’s Old Ale House.
Founded either in the Mid or Late 19th century (sources conflict), it was one of the last “Men Only” pubs
Oh those Little Rascals…so cute and…oh wait…umm…hey guys…we need to have a talk.
It serves the same two beverages it has always served. Light ale and Dark ale.
I had a rough time choosing.
So we each ordered a dark and a light and enjoyed the atmosphere which can be described appropriately as Ye Olde New York. Thirst quenched and minds sharp we wandered uptown. But yet again, not much further uptown.
Abraco coffee shop
was our next stop right off of St. Mark’s. Abraco is very small
Seriously, Rhode Island would beat the crap out of it in a war. (The joke works better when discussing countries)
but it has the best coffee in NYC in my opinion.
So we ordered two Macchiato’s and an olive cookie (and two cigarillos which our throats later regretted…don’t smoke kids)
and were once again on our way uptown for our final stop for lunch…
Momofuku’s Milk Bar.
Now for those of you who just went into Clockwork Orange convulsions…sorry but I haven’t seen it so I got nothing for you.
But the ice cream featuring corn flakes was delectable. Ian and I had a nice talk with a woman and her dog. All 3 of us being dog owners
or one of us being dog owners and the other 2 (Ian and I) being the children of dog owners but in actuality masquerading as dog owners
we bonded. Over dogs. Ok enough of this shocking news.
Ian and I then made the decision to actually do some serious walking. And serious walking we did.
We made our way West to the Chelsea Highline to walk the former subway track-turned public park and discussed a wide variety of subjects from:
things that made me smile
We took the West Side highway and began to feel our weak first world bodies sweat. But we kept on.
till we finally reached Morningside Heights as the sun began to set.
Following a short trip through the Columbia Campus and feeling like we made a terrible mistake in not attending a school which has such a beautiful campus…
we felt our near victory as the sun set over the streets of Harlem.
texting our near victory to my mother and girlfriend (not the same person don’t worry)
We stopped in at Africa Kine for some Senegalese Dinner (excellent stuff if you ever get a chance to go).
And with full stomachs and sore feet we reached our destination…
Filled with pride, food, and a newfound appreciation for New York City our next course of action was clear.
Take the subway home.